Human dimensions of bat conservation – 10 recommendations to improve and diversify studies of human-bat interactions

Tanja M. Straka, Joanna Coleman, Ewan A. Macdonald, Tigga Kingston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Human dimensions (HD) research is a discipline of conservation social sciences that applies social and psychological sciences to understand and influence conservation-relevant human behaviour. An understanding of the human dimensions is particularly required for bats because they are widely maligned and misunderstood and face many threats due to human behaviour. To gain a better understanding of the state of HD studies in bat conservation and address given critiques of social-science research undertaken by natural scientists, we assessed bat-related HD studies on four levels (1) authorships and the professional backgrounds of all authors, (2) conceptual foundations, including the range of contexts studied, the quality of literature reviews and conceptual framing in relation to drivers of human behaviour, (3) the extent to which authors follow social-science best practices and (4) recommendations. Our analysis of 68 papers revealed that compared to papers by natural scientists alone, those by multidisciplinary teams performed better at addressing a broader range of contexts and generating recommendations based on findings, but only slightly better on the conceptual-foundations and literature-review criteria. Our results suggest the need for more interdisciplinarity; specifically, early in the process. We also make ten recommendations for future bat-related HD research. Of these, five are intended to ground the field more firmly in conservation social science and five to prioritize future research. Collectively, our recommendations aim to solidify, accelerate and diversify bat-related HD research. Although bats are the focal animals, this paper's outcomes are potentially applicable to HD research on other taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109304
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Chiroptera
  • Conservation psychology
  • Conservation social sciences
  • Human-wildlife conflicts
  • Values


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